So if you have little kids like I do you are most likely fighting a continuous battle against toys. Now there are awesome toys like Magnatiles…
All three of our kids can play with Magnatiles for hours. Those are 100% worth the amount of space they take up and 100% worth having a little ‘toy clutter’ around when the kids are playing with them. Heck, I don’t even mind picking them up if the kids forget because they are such a smart toy that really encourages their creativity.
Then there are toys like this. A skateboard and ramp for the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtle Raphael. This was a happy meal toy from some fast food restaurant that a grandparent took our kids to. And yes, there was no Raphael turtle to go with it. You had to go back another week to get that. Seriously.
This is the type of toy that my friend Carrie dubbed a “day toy.” That is, a toy that you tell your kids they can play with for a day and then it is meant to be donated or thrown away. When Carrie told me about this term she created and how she uses it to control cheap toy clutter in her home, I almost kissed her in delight.
When her kids get toys like this she says something like “Oh how fun! A day toy!” Then her kids know that they have a day to play with them before they are tossed. Her kids have grown to expect this so it doesn’t ruffle a lot of feathers.
For us the day toys work more like this: Our kids get some sort of wonderful treasure (like the top above) in a birthday party favor bag (FYI almost all contents of favor bags can be qualified as day toys). They take enormous delight in said object for about 10 minutes max. Then it gets put away with other toys. Two weeks later I find it and I do one of two things…
1) If I know they really won’t miss it I throw it out while they are asleep. I have never had a child ask about a day toy I’ve tossed but they are familiar enough with the term that if they ever ask I am ready to say “Oh that weird light-up Green Lantern toy from McDonalds? That was a day toy.”
2) If I know they might be slightly attached to it, I ‘discover’ it amongst their other toys in the morning and say something like “What is this day toy still doing in with our regular toys? You got that weeks ago!” Then if it is really something they want to keep, they have to give me three reasons why it is worth keeping. And they have to be good. If they aren’t (or sometimes even if they are), I bust out the line “You know if we get rid of some of these day toys, we’d have more room to play with your nice toys.” Usually we end up throwing away the day toy together.
Occasionally, I apply the day toy term to something that isn’t a true day toy. For example, we recently got a huge pack of stickers from a friend. Some of the stickers were uncolored and it came with cute little markers to fill them in. But those markers were filled with permanent ink. Not cool. So I told Lou and Gigi that the markers were day toys and tossed them. We used our good old Washable Crayola markers on the stickers and everyone was happy.
I think this exercise helps them to see that just because something is given to them that doesn’t mean they have to keep it forever. Unselfishly, day toys help as I’m trying to help them learn that it’s better to be content with a few treasured things than to want to amass more and more and more for the sake of more. Quality over quantity, no? And selfishly, it helps keep the amount of toys that are cluttering up my life to a more manageable amount.
Now occasionally we get a day toy that I keep. Usually these come from Chick-Fil-A. For example, their board books are awesome for little ones who want to read like their older siblings but really use books as chew toys. I just hand those teething babes a CFA board book and they are happy to ‘read’ and chew alternatively (and bend the cover back ’til it stays permanently open like the Chuggington book above). I don’t care if it gets destroyed ’cause I can just toss it when it does.
And occasionally we just get a really good day toy that’s worth keeping. Like this book from CFA. It’s a really cute story that really made Rock chuckle. So I’m keeping it.
Are there other methods you use to get rid of unwanted toys? Do you toss them while your littles are in bed or do you go through their toys with them to give away? Did you appreciate that even though this post is about day toys and getting rid of them, I found all of the pictured items around our house this morning with very little effort? Sigh.